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Germany: Antitrust regulator opens probe into Amazon

 |  November 29, 2018

The Federal Cartel Office, Germany’s antitrust authority, has rolled out an inquiry into Amazon and whether or not it is using its dominance in the market to harm third-party retailers that sell products through its website as a marketplace member.

According to a report in Reuters citing the regulator, the Federal Cartel Office announced Thursday, November 29, that it has received “many” complaints requesting regulation of the business practices that Amazon has been engaging in recently. “Amazon acts as a kind of ‘gatekeeper’ to customers. The double role as biggest trader and biggest marketplace means there is a potential to impede other traders on the platform,” said cartel office President Andreas Mundt, according to Reuters. Mundt said the inquiry will look at the business rules Amazon imposes on traders that use the site, including the lack of transparency over terminating the contract, delaying payments, and the shipping conditions the marketplace merchants contend with. Reuters noted Germany is the second largest market for Amazon outside of the US In Germany, Amazon has long battled with unions over pay and the regulation of conditions for logistics workers, noted the report. Reuters noted that the Federal Cartel Office is also investigating social media giant Facebook after discovering that it gathered data on people without their consent by using its market dominance.

Earlier this week, after two years on the market, reports surfaced that Amazon will shut down its restaurant delivery service in London, according to the Evening Standard. The company told customers about the change in an email, saying the service would be discontinued after December 3. Amazon Restaurants UK, which faced competition from Deliveroo and Uber Eats, was available as part of the company’s same-day delivery service called Prime Now, according to reports. It started small in selected areas, and eventually grew to cover most of the city.

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